Retail sales using electronic cards lifted in the March quarter but remain below the average of the past five years, according to data from Paymark, which accounts for more than 75 percent of the country’s electronic transactions.
Spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent versus the December quarter and was up 1.3 percent when spending at fuel merchants is excluded, Paymark said. Both rates, however, are below the average of the previous five years of 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
“A slower growth momentum exists at present,” says Darren Hopper, head of e-commerce, digital experience and marketing at Paymark. “The monthly spending pattern can be volatile, as has been the case in the last six months. So too have the quarterly figures of late, but a clear pattern has emerged of spending growth having decelerated,” he said.
In March, spending through the Paymark network totaled $5.3 billion, up 2.5 percent versus March 2018 in underlying terms. The underlying data excludes large clients moving to or from Paymark. The strongest lift versus March 2018 was in Palmerston North, followed by Gisborne and Wanganui.
Stats NZ will publish electronic card transaction data for March on Friday.
Westpac Bank is expecting that data to show a 0.4 percent lift after a 0.9 percent lift in February. “Recent increases in petrol prices will dampen spending in other areas. There has also been softness in the housing market that will dampen spending appetites. On top of those factors, March saw a softening in consumer confidence,” it said.